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New group takes on Boundary food recovery program

Responsibility for a food recovery program in Grand Forks will now be handled by a different group, but people who benefit from it shouldn’t notice any difference.

Boundary Community Ventures, which has developed the Boundary Food Hub, will now be responsible for the program Gospel Chapel started to minimize food going to waste from Extra Foods in Grand Forks.

Under the new arrangement, Gospel Chapel will continue to provide the venue and the Regional District Kootenay Boundary will provide funding. The staff person currently managing the program will be hired by Boundary Community Ventures.

Community Ventures director Vicki Gee said the program was getting to the point where Gospel Chapel could no longer operate it and it risked being lost, so her group stepped in.

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“It just became very large,” she said. “It turned into a very large scale commercial enterprise which I’m pretty sure was far beyond what they thought they were getting into when they first started.”

Gee said the Community Ventures board unanimously supported taking it over. It was further endorsed by Boundary-area politicians to provide basic funding.

Gospel Chapel started the program in 2021 and operates it through Second Harvest, a national charity. It also created the Boundary Food Security Network in 2015, which consists of several organizations involved in food security as well as Boundary Family Services, School District 51 and the Boundary Women’s Coalition.

“Often arrangements are made [between them] for transporting food because there is no other formal way,” she said. “The fact that network has existed all this time and these organizations are all working together made it a lot more feasible for us to take this project on.”

Gee called the program a “huge undertaking” that is saving “literally tons of food.” More than 50 volunteers recover food on weekdays, year round. The program involves sorting food into what can immediately be delivered to other non-profits like the food bank and courtesy kitchen, making other items into soups or dehydrating them, and then giving what is not fit for human consumption to farmers for animal feed.

Gee said the food will continue to be processed at Gospel Chapel, since it’s home to a commercial kitchen and then distributed through various means across the Boundary.

While the formal transition has not been finalized, she said there should be no disruption in service.

“The last thing any of us want to see is food going into the garbage,” she said. “There should be no obvious sign that things are being managed by another organization.

“We are so grateful to Gospel Chapel for their long history of supporting food security in the Boundary and for starting this program,” Boundary Community Ventures chair and RDKB vice-chair Grace McGregor said in a news relaese.

“The Boundary directors are very supportive of this collaboration. Food security and greenhouse gas reduction are two critical goals of the regional district.”

“We are pleased to collaborate across organizations to maintain the food recovery program,” said executive pastor Ben Jepsen. “It has been a great undertaking for Gospel Chapel in the years we have operated it. This collaboration will allow the program to explore growth that further benefits our region.”

The Boundary Community Food Bank also runs a program to recover food from Save-On-Foods.

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